BENTON - Inmates at Scott County Jail will soon have access to a new privilege at the facility: pay phones.
Scott County commissioners approved a three-year contract with Evercom Phone Systems during the regular county commission meeting Tuesday.
Under the terms of the agreement, Evercom will install, maintain and update phones in the prisoner pods at the jail for use by the inmates to call family.
"This is not going to cost us anything," said Sheriff Rick Walter. Inmates will be held liable for any phone equipment they damage
The county will receive 25 percent of the gross revenue generated from the phones, according to county officials.
The system includes security software for features such as tape backup for calls; alerts for when specified numbers are called; a block for dialing specified numbers; and time limits for calls.
A touchpad confirmation system to track jailers while they make their rounds in the jail is also included in the package. "That's just a bonus for this system," Walter said.
The inmate phone system's installation should be complete within six weeks, according to Walter.
In other business discussed by commissioners with the sheriff, Walter said he is researching ways to fund a school resource officer for the Kelly School District at Benton.
Most school resource officer positions were created using COPS grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice which is no longer available. "Last year was the last year you could apply," Walter said of the program.
Walter said he was trying to figure out a cooperative arrangement with the school district, "some kind of cost share with them."
Duties for a school resource officer go beyond simply providing security, Walter said. There are 1,150 students at Kelly in kindergarten through 12th grade plus faculty and staff, according to Walter.
"You have a small town," he said, "bigger than the city of Oran, Benton."
Walter said he is also looking at ways to fund the position and use the officer during the three months school is not in session. "We need to look at the numbers, see if we can make it work," he said.
In other business during Tuesday's meeting:
* The low bid of $2,445 for a metal shed from Don M. Baker Enterprises was accepted by commissioners.
The shed is 10 feet wide, 20 feet long and has a roll-up door, according to commissioners. It was purchased to store mowers and other yard maintenance equipment.
Commissioners asked Walter to determine exactly where in the alley behind the sheriff's office the shed should be placed.
* Commissioners have received five applications for the Scott County developer position and hope to conduct interviews Friday.
* Bids on the restoration project for the courthouse's exterior are due Tuesday when they will be opened during the regular county commission meeting.